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Six University System Institutions Partner on a $4.9 Million National Science Foundation Initiative

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Effort Targeted to Encourage Minority Participation in Sciences and Related Fields

Atlanta — June 9, 2005

With a $4.9 million grant from the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), a program of the National Science Foundation (NSF), six University System of Georgia colleges and universities will launch an initiative that aims to boost the number of underrepresented minorities who receive bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.

The purpose of the five-year initiative – a collaboration among Bainbridge College, Fort Valley State University, Georgia Perimeter College, Savannah State University, Southern Polytechnic University, and the University of Georgia – is to double, during the agreement period, the number of underrepresented minority students in Georgia who complete undergraduate degrees in STEM.

As a result of its primary role in seeking and obtaining the NSF grant, UGA will serve as the lead institution and fiscal agent for the grant and program (to be known as the Peach State LSAMP).

“The University System has made increasing access to higher education for under-represented segments of the state’s population a priority,” said University System Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith. “We encourage our institutions to collaborate and combine resources to broaden access. This National Science Foundation grant recognizes the ability of our campuses to work together to create a solid program targeted toward minorities in some key fields of study.”

Beginning this fall, the six institutions will collaborate on projects to prepare African Americans, Hispanic Americans and other underrepresented minorities for careers in STEM fields. The goal of the collaborative effort is to increase minority enrollment and retention in STEM fields at the participating institutions from 560 to 1,120 students during a five-year period.

“Improving educational participation of minorities is a major state issue, and even more so in the fields of science, technology and mathematics,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “This grant allows the University of Georgia, working with five of its sister institutions, an opportunity to greatly enhance minority participation in these fields that are so important to the state’s success in the 21st century. I am pleased that we are collaborating with our colleagues toward this important goal.”

LSAMP is part of a nationwide effort by NSF to increase the number of minority students successfully completing STEM baccalaureate degree programs and to increase the number of minority students interested in and academically prepared to pursue graduate study in the disciplines of math and science.

The flagship NSF program is conducted with full congressional approval and authorization, said A. James Hicks, LSAMP program director at NSF. “Diversity is a part of America’s strength,” said Hicks. “And if America is to remain pre-eminent in the STEM fields, it must make use of its diversity.”

The program will address issues that affect student success in core STEM courses and build on existing successful drop-in tutoring programs; expand existing programs of supplemental instruction by peers; encourage alliance institutions to host an annual undergraduate research conference; and improve the faculty and graduate-student mentoring that undergraduate summer research student participants receive during their research experience.

“Georgia is engaging in very aggressive recruitment, retention and graduate school preparation activities to lead the nation in producing underrepresented STEM scholars,” said Associate Provost Keith Parker of UGA’s Office of Institutional Diversity. Parker will help administer the initiative.

“The initiative is designed to address the need for more technology-oriented workers in Georgia. Developers of the initiative cited data identifying a shortage of college graduates with technical and scientific training in Georgia and across the nation.”

During the five-year period, the PSLSAMP partner institutions will select eligible students and pair them with faculty mentors who will assist them in research efforts. Each campus will hold conferences and symposia for faculty mentors, host research fairs for participating students and design activities for precollegiate students. A statewide research fair will be held in conjunction with Clark Atlanta University, which also has a grant from NSF’s LSAMP.

PSLSAMP institutions also will take part in national LSAMP conferences; there are more than three dozen LSAMP programs nationwide.

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